Not too long ago I injured my back. As the hours progressed, my back pain increased to the point of being unbearable, and I was admitted to the emergency room.
I had a horrible experience there. The staff did not listen to me carefully. I was angry because they weren’t listening to my complaints about the pain. Since I have experience working in the medical field, I felt that they were treating me as if I was a drug seeker. I kept insisting I was in pain, and they responded with rudeness. I felt helpless. I was at the mercy of those taking care of me.
They ended up sending me home with pain medication that helped for a while, but I ended up going back two more times after being misdiagnosed. I finally received the correct diagnosis at my third visit and was admitted. My health got better and I was discharged, but weeks later I went in a fourth time for hospital-acquired pneumonia, which I believe I got from my sick roommate. The pneumonia was serious. A chest tube was inserted and I knew my health was deteriorating. I started wondering if I would die. One of my sons took off of work for a whole week to be with me as he thought I was nearing the end of my life.
I have never experienced pain like that, and even medication could not take it away. I listened in on what the doctors and nurses were saying, and I knew things weren’t going well. During all of this, I became aware of my bitter feelings towards the staff that served me when I first went in. I kept thinking about this over and over again.
Lord over me and others
I fought to remember that Jesus created the universe and everything in it. He is sovereign over all events, over microscopic cells in my body, over my flesh and soul, and over my health and sickness. Everything is under his control (Colossians 1:15-17). I also know that I have no control over what others will do. Jesus is Lord and is the one who is in control of everything. He knows their hearts and what causes them to be the way they are. I know the Holy Spirit can soften their hearts too and they can become his. I reaffirmed this truth in my moment of adversity, so my faith would not waver.
Being wronged and being bitter
Even though others wronged me, I knew that my bitterness toward them was not right — and this weighed heavily on me. The Lord has forgiven me for all that I’ve done throughout my life (Ephesians 4:31-32). Carrying bitterness was hurting me and my relationship with the Lord. I thought, “If I die, I don’t want to come before the Lord hanging onto baggage I could have gotten rid of.” I know bitterness and failing to forgive are sins against God (Hebrews 12:15; Matthew 18:35).
A restoring Savior
In his goodness, God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the punishment for my sins. He is my Savior and the savior of the world (1 John 4:14). My sovereign Lord Jesus knows me. He wants me to confess my sins; and he is faithful to forgive my sins and restore my fellowship with him and God. Jesus is more powerful than sin. I asked the Lord to forgive me and he did! He cleansed me and healed my soul (1 John 1:7, 9). Being able to forgive brought me closer to him.
Even when I felt like God was far away, he was right there and responded to my call. When I felt weak he increased my faith so he could work through me. Prayers by others on my behalf also increased my faith (2 Corinthians 1:8b -11). Once the things that were occupying my mind and emotions were gone, my eyes were opened to the people caring for me. Because I forgave, the bitterness left and I had the capacity to be concerned about others and how things were going for them.
Even though I was still tempted to worry about what was going to happen to me next, my focus changed to the spiritual needs of my caregivers. The Holy Spirit led me to share the Gospel with the charge nurse who was in my room trying to restart my difficult IV. She was so attentive, and I got bolder and shared with other staff who came in my room. Every day I was able to share with my assigned staff on all three shifts. I also shared the Gospel with my internist and my pulmonologists. My health improved and I was discharged in 12 days, leaving a lot of new friends behind. I’m so grateful that the Lord had not only healed my body, but used this situation to heal my soul, too!